Sound Status Update — January 2018
By Melissa Malott, Executive Director
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and got a great start to your 2018. I know myself and everyone here at Citizens for a Healthy Bay have certainly hit the ground running in the new year. Despite the downcast weather, January has been truly fantastic because we added two new incredibly talented people to the CHB team: Kenny Coble and Emily Pinckney. They’ll lead our environmental justice work, which is a big priority for us in our efforts to better represent all members of the community, and we couldn’t be more excited about it.
Additionally, we’re advocating for a new bill geared towards protecting our communities from oil spills, and reviewing two contaminated sites in the Tacoma Tideflats that are being removed from the Hazardous Sites list.
Citizens for a Healthy Bay Launches Environmental Justice Program
In order to better represent the residents of Tacoma and to strengthen the organization’s efforts to protect Puget Sound, Citizens for a Healthy Bay has launched an environmental justice program, with Kenny Coble as the organization’s Environmental Justice Program Manager and Emily Pinckney as its Community Justice Organizer.
With those who might be unfamiliar with what environmental justice is, according to the EPA’s webpage on environmental justice, “environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” Environmental justice is achieved when “everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.”
Environmental justice is a core value of CHB, because protecting the environment doesn’t stop at the edge of a certain neighborhood. Check out the full press release on our environmental justice program and two new hires here.
Oil Spill Prevention Act
To effectively protect our waters, it’s critical that Washington stays ahead of the evolving and growing risk of oil spills. We’re facing new threats such as the Kinder Morgan pipeline, increased threat of export and escalated drilling from the Trump administration. Washington State Senator Ranker has introduced the Oil Spill Prevention Act, SB 6269, an important step in statewide work to protect our communities, Puget Sound, and waterways across the state from oil spills. This bill would secure stable and reliable funding for oil spill prevention and preparedness work, fully implement marine protections and strengthen protection tools.
The Oil Spill Prevention Act would alleviate the current funding crisis for preventing oil spills by increasing the barrel tax to address the current funding gap. It would also ensure that all modes of moving oil are taxed fairly. Pipelines now provide up to 40% of the overall oil moving in Washington, yet oil arriving by pipelines is not taxed in the same way as oil moving by rail or marine vessel. The bill would also direct the state to adopt rules that strengthen Puget Sound protections from situations where oils submerge and sink, which are particularly difficult to cleanup. The legislature needs to act on this common-sense protection for our Sound.
Stay tuned by signing up for our Action Alert emails to learn about opportunities to help us advocate for moving this important bill forward!
Hazardous Cleanup Sites
There are two sites in the Tacoma Tideflats that the state is proposing to remove from Washington’s Hazardous Sites list, a statewide record of contaminated properties: the Naval Reserve Center site and the Sound Battery Site. Proposing to remove these two sites from the list essentially means that the state has found that the cleanup goals have been met for these sites.
The Naval Reserve Center site, located nearby the Hylebos Waterway, contains soil and groundwater contaminated by petroleum from fuel storage tanks that were previously on the property. The Sound Battery site was used to manufacture batteries for several decades beginning in the 1940s. Lead contamination has been found in soil and groundwater at the site, which resulted in its inclusion on the state Hazardous Sites list. The owners of both sites have worked with Ecology to remove and monitor contamination.
Our scientific experts are currently reviewing the cleanup data for both sites and we’ll be making recommendations to the agency based on their findings. Public comments on both sites will be accepted through February 5th.
Find out more about the Naval Reserve Center site here: https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/gsp/Sitepage.aspx?csid=3017
Find out more about the Sound Battery site here: https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/gsp/Sitepage.aspx?csid=3646
One last quick note, we met our year-end matching gift goal of $10,000!!! Thank you so much for supporting Citizens for a Healthy Bay, because we cannot do our work without you. I’m so humbled by this community, and can’t wait to see what we achieve in 2018.